The Scherrer Chardonnay was harvested and pressed to tank a little over a week ago.
Yeast nutrients are added to fermenting juice to help reinvigorate the yeast at about the time a third of the sugar is converted to alcohol + CO2 (although nutrient dosing times vary). Without good levels of Nitrogen and other essential vitamins, yeast start to produce those stinkin’ volatile sulfur compounds that create aromas like rotten eggs. Most winemakers add DAP and other proprietary nutrients like Fermaid or Superfood.
To get a feel for his wines, Fred insists on doing all barrel downs himself.
With The Scherrer Vineyard Alexander Valley Chardonnay now starting to ferment, Fred moves this juice to barrels. You have to leave room for the active fermenting juice, so the barrels are not filled to the top. No worries about oxygen as the CO2 fills the head space.
He used some hogshead (350L or 92 gallons). These were filled to the 58 gallon level.
And burgundy barrels (228L or 60 gallons), which were filled to the 38 gallon level. A mix of new oak, 1-year old oak and a few older oak barrels are used during fermentation. After the fermentation is complete, some of the wine in the older barrels will be used to top up the others (no space for oxygen); this will reduce the lot to a delicious 7 barrels using a mix of hogshead and barrels.
With all the botrytis pressure this year, especially in the cooler areas of Sonoma, this could be a great year for the warmer climate Alexander Valley Chardonnay.